I’m a ‘coconut’, so what?

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

What is the true definition of a coconut and what makes me (or anyone) a coconut?

I know I’ve been called a coconut because “I try to speak like a white person” all the while, my tongue would have been moulded by English speaking teachers, I mean isn’t that the reason we find black people who speak with a heavy coloured accent? But why are there all these unnecessary definitions? Can I not just speak like myself?

As black people, we really just undermine each other. We laugh at each other when words aren’t pronounced as we expect them to, but we are quicker than the speed of light to help white people with our languages.

If we can help others learn what is foreign to them, why can’t we help our own kind learn what is also foreign to us. Can we not build each other?

I can’t remember a time where a white person ever called me a coconut or attempted to diminish my proficiency in either Afrikaans or English, but I certainly can remember the instances where black people shouted “she thinks she’s better,” or a certain statesman calling us “clever blacks”.

Someone recently said Adolf Hitler was better than our apartheid government because “at least he only killed minds”. I’m going to assume that alludes to the fact the apartheid regime sought to diminish our mental strength and kill our minds.

Then what do we call it when 21 years after our dispensation we laugh at each other when people try to learn and express themselves in a language foreign to them?

I simply hate the “i-box”, “i-car” jokes we jovially share with white folks, then turn around and laugh hard at the “man-age-ment” and “de-term-ine” jokes at the expense of someone who tried.

Yes, they didn’t say it perfectly, but the intelligent beings we claim to be should be able to understand the message being conveyed, shouldn’t we?

Naledi Pandor was ridiculed for her accent – Julius was too ridiculed for his speech as a whole, yet they both ended up in parliament. Should it really matter how their accents ring in our ears? Should we not instead be focusing on the content they wish to deliver? We will never all speak the same, as we will never have the same kind of education.

Encouraging one’s desire to improve never happened by killing the confidence in what they already know.

today in print

today in print